Final Separation

About four years after my mom left my dad the first time she decided this was it. She was leaving him for good.  She had the opportunity to move into grandma’s house because my aunt and uncle were divorcing.  She was carefully plotting for months on how to leave without him realizing it.  She sucked me into her maddening idea.

She painted a picture of us being in Chicago and having all kinds of fun, just like during their first separation.  Our house wasn’t pleasant in the past few years.  My parents barely spoke, my mother was always depressed, and my dad was sullen.  I was the only kid left at home.  My brothers were living in Chicago at my grandma’s house, and my sister was living on her own in Nipigon.

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Parents first Separation

The first time my parents separated I was six years old.  My mom was going through a deep depression, and I think she blamed my dad.  She believed her best bet was to pack her and my brother and I and move into my grandma’s house in Chicago.  She owned a two-story house with an apartment above where she lived.  My aunt and uncle lived on the main floor.  My two older siblings were also living in the house.  We were in cramped living quarters.

My mom, my sister and I and grandma lived in my grandma’s apartment which was not that big.  My brothers occupied the basement.  None of us lived with my aunt and uncle even though they had a spacious area.

We left Canada as soon as school ended for my brother and I.  I was too young to realize what was going on but I remember being excited to stay at grandma’s house.  I don’t think my mom ever told my dad she was leaving him; we were going on “vacation.”

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Dad’s Christmas Visit

It was my first Christmas in Chicago since my parents separated in September.  I remember December 1982 being damp, dreary and not at all what I was used to since moving from Canada.  Canada by Christmas time has layers of pristine snow, and when the sun shone, it would brighten up.  The Chicago weather was depressing.

I probably wasn’t to keen on much since I missed Canada and wanted to see my dad.  I sat perched atop my grandmother’s radiator which was enclosed by a covering.  The covering was as long as the four large living room windows. Between watching whatever was on television and glimpsing outside, I spotted what looked like a familiar car.

It was drizzling out, so I thought the car was going slow because of the weather.  I went back to watching the television.  A few minutes later I saw the same vehicle slowly pass our house.  I took a closer look, and I knew for sure I recognized the car.  It was my parent’s station wagon that my dad still drove.  I didn’t say anything to my brother or mom since I didn’t want to cause a stir.

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Talent Inherited

 

My dad’s mind was unusual. He could be very analytical one minute and immersed in being an artist.  I carry the same thought processes.  I know where the Asperger’s came from, he had the same quirky traits as me.  His quirkiness wasn’t quite as pronounced as mine.  I think some of his faded due to the hard life he had as a child.

One of his talents was being a master at carving wood.  He mainly did it in wintertime when it was a slow time at the motel.  He would spend days on end creating something from a block of wood.  I sometimes watched.  There were many pieces he created over the years.  One time he spent about four months carving a jewelry box for my mom as a Christmas gift.  I watched as she opened her gift and had a look of “oh great another one of your carvings.”  I couldn’t believe she didn’t appreciate all my dad’s hard work to make her happy.

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Pregnant and Married at Seventeen

My wedding day…I sighed.  Every girl dreams of her wedding day, believing it will be the happiest day of her life.  I was starting a new life with someone whom I thought I would be with for the rest of my life.  However, this day held no joy for me.  Seventeen, six months pregnant and trying to squeeze into a wedding gown hardly felt joyful.

I was not ready to take this journey, not with all the conflict I was experiencing.  My mom preached this was the proper thing to do and there were no other alternatives.  The only option she had preferred is I told her early on I was pregnant so she could arrange for an abortion.  It was too late for that, and I was thankful.

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Another Attempt-*Warning sensitive content*

Since my first attempt at suicide at the age of eight, I still struggled with suicidal thoughts on and off through the years.  Many times during my teen years I would grab a bottle of Tylenol or aspirin and begin the process of overdosing.  The farthest I got was having a handful of pills in my hand and crying profusely.

Every time the same small voice that talked me out of not ending it all would speak to me.  I attribute that to God and nothing else.

This particular suicidal moment was while I was married to my first husband who was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive.  He would leave days on end, and when he finally would show up, he would be drunk, drugged up or both.  He was on one of his excursions, and I was home alone with my son.  I was at a low point because I had no job and felt no way out.  At the time, my family was trying their best to help me, but even they didn’t realize just how bad my situation had become.

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Atrial Septal Defect (Hole in Heart) Part 1

I always knew my heart didn’t function correctly even as a kid.  I would play, and if I did anything strenuous, I would nearly pass out.  It wasn’t every time I played or had gym class; it was during the times I had to exert.  My body would become so weak and tired I had to stop midway.  I had a hard time catching my breath and feel faint. Over time, my heart got worse.

I was fortunate I got to skip gym my whole high life.  I had a severe knee injury where I had surgery two times within two years.  The doctors had to cut the cartilage below my kneecap.  I could barely bend my knee after the second surgery, so the doctors gave me a free pass from gym class.  I took maybe one month during my freshman year, and that was all.

I think me not having to take gym during that time is what prevented my heart from not functioning.  The worsened once I got divorced the second time in my mid-thirties.  I had a big house with a large plot of land I had to maintain.  Plus, I started college to become a Medical Assistant at the time.  So, a single parent trying to go to school, and care for this house.  My heart wasn’t having any of it.

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Atrial Septal Defect (Hole in Heart) Part 2

About a year and a half after my incident of what I thought was a stroke, I ended up in the hospital again for the same symptoms.  It was the same sensation of feeling numbness all down my left side.  I felt weak, tired, dizzy and felt faint.  I went into the hospital where the doctors ran a gambit of tests.  Neurologists had me do another MRI to see if there, in fact, was anything happening in my brain.

Nothing showed up as far as a stroke.  I was thankful but knew there was still a problem.  One of the neurologists who talked with me, suggested I look into seeing a cardiologist.  I pondered the thought because I always suspected my heart was the issue after the neurologists couldn’t find anything wrong.  I was released from the hospital and didn’t give it another thought.

I was busy trying to care for my daughter and myself to think about anything possibly wrong with my heart.  A couple of years passed and I was managing fine as far as my health.  Everything came to a screeching halt in 2010.

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Atrial Septal Defect (Hole in Heart) Part III

The waiting was the absolute worse.  My breathing had continued getting worse, and I got barely take steps and would have to stop.  I wanted this to all be over with and get on with my life.  Unfortunately, there was an uncertainty anything would help me at this point because of the damage to my heart.  All I could pray and think about was my daughter and the possible outcome if the cardiologists were unable to fix the problem.  I had no choice but to leave it in God’s hands.

I was fortunate my friend from church had a daughter who lived in an apartment about 10 minutes from the hospital in Chicago.  Her daughter worked all over the world and was rarely at her place.  My friend offered to not only drive me but said we could stay there until I could go back home.

The day before the procedure we drove up to Chicago because I had to be at the hospital by 6:30 in the morning.  My daughter was with me along with my friend staying in the apartment.  I was nervous but also glad because now I could begin finding solutions.  The church prayed for us before we left and I knew God was with me.

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Great White North

My family first moved to Thunder Bay Ontario from Chicago Illinois when I was six weeks of age.  From nine months of age on, they bought a motel along Hwy 17 which was just outside a small town called Nipigon Ontario.  To give an idea where it is, if you follow Lake Superior around Minnesota and head due north a hundred miles, that’s where we lived.

The population was sparse.  The town of Nipigon had around 1200 folks.  The next town of Red Rock (can’t recall the number of people) but I am pretty sure it was far less.  The busiest areas were in town and along the highway.  And that was not saying much.  The wildlife outnumbered the people by about a million to one. And for my time I spent there, it was fine by me.

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